Flatter learning curve
Micro and Mini Max Rotax Engines adds intermediate karting engines for SA
ROTAX has introduced two new junior karting engines for youngsters to smooth the way to racing stardom: The new Micro Max and Mini Max classes
Rotax, makers of the world’s most successful and reliable karting engines, have introduced two new racing classes for youngsters determined to make their mark in the exacting world of motor racing.
For the past four decades karting has provided the springboard for international motor racing success, spawning F1 champions like Lewis Hamilton and our own Jody Scheckter, and today things are more competitive than ever, with young girls and boys barely old enough to start school cutting their teeth in karting.
Indeed, South Africa has long subscribed to this philosophy of “start them while they’re young” and we currently run championships for kids aged between five to eight years old in various regions.
These so- called “Cadet” class karts employ 50 cc engines tuned to produce 3 kW, and it is a treat to see fields of up to 20 of these children barrelling around a track with crash helmets that seem to be as broad as their young shoulders. Long- time Rotax importer Ed Murray said the next step up for these youngsters is into the 60 cc National Championship classes, for drivers aged from eight to 13 years old.
“The biggest problem with these classes — and they now boast national championship status — is that the step up in power is huge,” said Murray.
“From 3 kW, the young driver suddenly finds himself having to cope with 9 kW from a highlytuned 60 cc engine — that’s three times the power.
“It may not sound like much to an adult, but when you are eight years old it is a frightening step.
“This is where Rotax comes in, with its new Micro Max engine, paving the way for an intermediary step up the karting ladder,” said Murray
The Micro Max karting engine, designed for drivers aged 7- 10, is yet another variation on the Rotax formula for success that sees the same basic engine used across a whole age- group range, with easy- to- facilitate but telling changes made to the engines to restrict or increase power. The Micro Max engine still employs the same 125 cc capacity as its more powerful brothers in the Rotax series that sees steps in power all the way up to 22 kW in the top single- gear engine run in the Senior Max series for drivers 15 years and older.
But the Micro Max motor, although using the same bulletproof cylinder and engine casing, has restrictors employed to reduce its power output to 6 kW.
This is achieved by introducing a thick spacer under the cylin- der to reduce compression and combustion area squish, adding a very small exhaust restrictor, and using a non- expansion- box exhaust system, which effectively does away with any supercharging effect as enjoyed by the more highly tuned two strokes.
In addition the radiator employed is much smaller on the Micro Max engine.
This engine is designed to fit on the kart chassis currently used in the 60 cc Maxterino and Mini Rok classes.
The advantage of this is that this chassis can still be used if the competitor wants to compete in the more powerful 60 cc classes, run for eight to 13- year- olds at National Championships.
And theMicro Max engine can also be used for the next step up, where it is easily up- graded with inexpensive parts.
For karters aged 10- 13
RotaxMini Max, for karters aged 10- 13, is the next step up the karting ladder after Maxterino/ Mini Rok/ Micro Max. The same base Rotax engine is employed, but with less restriction.
A racing expansion- box type exhaust ( the identical one used in Junior and Senior Max classes) and a larger diameter exhaust restrictor is employed and power for Mini Max now rises to 11 kW.
This is the ideal stepping stone towards the Junior Max class ( for 13- 16- year- olds), where again there is a big power hike to 15 kW. This newMini Maxclass will employ the same chassis as used in the 60cc National classes.
The advantage for some drivers will be that the weight limit moves from the 110 kg of the 60 cc class to 125 kg.
Many youngsters suffer growth spurts at this stage of their lives and the 125 kg weight limit will be easier to make.
“The Micro Max engine provides an easy to drive flat power curve that assists youngsters to recover from mistakes easily and Rotax’s legendary reliability comes to the fore in real cost savings,” says Ed Murray.
“Although a Micro Max engine costs more than its 50 or 60 cc rivals the running costs are a fraction of conventional motors thanks to modern materials and very low stress levels.
“There is even a cost saving on oil consumption — 50% less — and it’s kinder to the environment in noise and air pollution.”
New classes in next races
It is planned to introduce the two new classes over the course of the 2016 season, and already young- sters are enthralled by the new Micro Max and Mini Max classes, many of them having sampled the new engines at a club race meeting demonstration outing in January 2016.
“This is the future of karting, where we introduce affordable, ultra- reliable engines to an age group where enthusiasm is at its peak, and where youngsters and parents don’t want their race weekends hampered by reliability issues or forever running- in engines after rebuilds.
“With these engines running in such low states of tune, and with no modifications of any type allowed in any of the Rotax classes, the emphasis will all be about the driver, which is the way Rotax intended it to be when it started this amazing engine series 18 years ago.,” said Murray.
A young carter gets some last minute advice before racing starts.